POLLOCK’S NEWS UPDATE: Full preview of Wrestle Kingdom 13

John Pollock previews the entire Wrestle Kingdom card, Britt Baker signs with AWE, Best and Worst of NXT from 2018, final episode of Impact on Pop, Raw & SmackDown's viewership figures & more.

POST IT NOTES

**Braden Herrington and Davie Portman have a special edition of upNXT as they run their picks for the Best and Worst of NXT from 2018 and are joined by several friends to make their picks in the various categories.

**The final edition of the EGGSHELLS Podcast Companion is out today as host Chris Charlton welcomes Kevin Kelly to discuss Wrestle Kingdom 12 from last year. We want to thank Chris for this excellent series on the history of wrestling at the Tokyo Dome going back to 1989. If you have not purchased his books, Lion’s Pride and EGGSHELLS, I encourage as they are must-reads for anyone wanting to learn about the culture of Japanese wrestling.

**Wai Ting and I have a new show up reviewing this past week’s episodes of Raw and SmackDown with a run through of each show. We also discussed the career of Gene Okerlund following his passing, the launch of All Elite Wrestling with the details known and other questions that remain, all of our coverage coming up this week, and taking your feedback.

**Our Wrestle Kingdom 13 POST Show will be available Friday for members of the POST Wrestling Café as Wai Ting and I will be recording the show immediately after the show ends. If you are a Double Double, Iced Capp, or Espresso member, you can log into Patreon after the show to video stream our POST Show live. We will also have a free show out Saturday reviewing New Year Dash from Korakuen Hall.

**We will have Wrestle Kingdom coverage on the site, beginning at 2 am Eastern tonight.

**Finally, Nate Milton returns Sunday night as we review the Impact Wrestling pay-per-view.

POST WRESTLING SCHEDULE (Wrestle Kingdom Week)
*Friday:
 NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 13 POST Show with John Pollock and Wai Ting (Patreon)
*Saturday:
 NJPW New Year’s Dash POST Show with John Pollock and Wai Ting
*Sunday:
 Rewind-A-Wai #27 on ECW’s Massacre on 34th Street from Dec. 2000 (Patreon)
*Sunday:
 Impact Wrestling’s Homecoming POST Show with John Pollock & Nate Milton

WRESTLING NEWS

New Japan Pro Wrestling’s tradition of running the Tokyo Dome on January 4th continues late tonight with one of the most loaded cards in the promotion’s history.

The show is already a success having outsold last year’s card that saw 34,995 buy tickets and this year’s number is said to be around the 36,000 mark and could see a walk up to take the total higher.

The booking of this show will be analyzed thoroughly with many moving parts from the launch of All Elite Wrestling, Kenny Omega’s deal with New Japan coming due at the end of this month, the future of Chris Jericho, and several performers in positions to take major steps forward on tonight’s show.

Wai Ting and I will have a Wrestle Kingdom POST Show about 30 minutes after the main event ends. If you are a Double Double, Iced Capp, or Espresso member of the POST Wrestling Café you can stream our show live by logging in on Patreon. The podcast version of the show will be exclusively available for all tiers of the POST Wrestling Café.

Here is a preview of Wrestle Kingdom 13:

Kenny Omega vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi for the IWGP heavyweight title

It has been a very effectively built match with the story of Tanahashi going for one final reign as IWGP heavyweight champion and turning back the clock, as he did at the G1. While Omega will have his support in the building, I am expecting an overwhelming Tanahashi crowd that wants to see him succeed and win the title.

I re-watched their match from February 2016 and it’s an amazing performance from both. It was Omega’s first major match as a heavyweight and cemented his spot that night with a match-of-the-year contender. I don’t expect this to be similar, as that featured tons of run-ins and an overt heel character in Omega. This match should be more nuanced from the story of their philosophical differences and for many, that’s the intrigue to see how that is presented within the structure of a match, sort of like two different styles of musicians coming together to perform a song together.

It’s rare you go into a match expecting to see one of the greatest matches of all-time, but with the two performers of this caliber, the setting, the story, and the level of sophistication these two put into their matches, it sets the bar so high for what they can achieve. Tanahashi isn’t the athletic performer he was in 2012, but his mind is as sharp as ever and knows every element necessary to put on a classic.

Regardless of Omega’s future, I feel Tanahashi winning the title will provide an incredible end to the show and sets up a huge match for Madison Square Garden with either a rematch with Omega or another match with Kazuchika Okada for the first time on U.S. soil.

Chris Jericho vs. Tetsuya Naito in a No Disqualification match for the Intercontinental title

At the Fan Fest, they turned this match into a No DQ match with Jericho powerbombing Naito through a table in front of Harold Meij.

This will be the violent match of the night with lots of weapons and brawling to set it apart from the rest of the show. Their match in June at Dominion got over strong and the two have great chemistry and this should be another great match, although everyone has their work cut out for themselves going on so late on a deep card like this one.

I can’t see any result other than Naito winning the title and getting a big win at Wrestle Kingdom. Naito should have a huge 2019 and be able to win the G1 and headline next year’s Tokyo Dome show. I would not wait on Naito much longer as the audience is ready to see them go all the way with him.

Jericho is going to be one of the most interesting cases to watch in 2019 as everyone will want him and he knows how best to use his leverage. He got the most out of the least in 2018 by limiting his wrestling matches and getting maximum value with the “less is more” theory. He has so many interesting matches on the table in New Japan and he has stated how big a fan of Okada’s he is. I think we’ll have a better sense of Jericho’s future if he shoots an angle at New Year Dash on Saturday.

Kazuchika Okada vs. Jay White

This is White’s chance at redemption for last year’s underwhelming match with Hiroshi Tanahashi, which was poorly designed. White has improved greatly this year, he had a stellar match with Juice Robinson in San Francisco and was a bright spot in the G1. It took a while, but he has assimilated to the Switchblade character, which didn’t feel like a good fit when it was introduced.

This is first Wrestle Kingdom card where Okada hasn’t been in the IWGP title match since his return in 2012. This match is still one of the “big three” and has high expectations, but not at the level of some of the other matches on the card.

I cannot see White winning this match but having a solid outing will go a long way for his future. I see Okada winning this one to be set up strong for a prominent match at Madison Square Garden either challenging for the IWGP title or other major singles match.

With the uncertainty over the foreigners, Jay White and Juice Robinson stand to benefit greatly as the next in line to assume the roles of any vacancies. Regardless of the talent situation, White is going to make it as a big star and going down in defeat to Okada after a long battle will benefit him long-term.

KUSHIDA vs. Taiji Ishimori for the IWGP junior heavyweight title

Their last singles match was at the Best of the Super Juniors tournament in 2016 with KUSHIDA winning that match.

There have been reports of the WWE’s interest in KUSHIDA, so if he loses this match, those rumors will take on a lot more traction.

This is the biggest match of Ishimori’s career and seems poised to win the title and start to establish himself as a top junior heavyweight in the company.

Last year, KUSHIDA was part of an excellent four-way match and this year he doesn’t feel like he has a lot of momentum going into the show, but I still expect a tremendous match out of them. I feel KUSHIDA has done everything possible in the junior heavyweight division and it’s time to move him to the heavyweight mix for fresh match ups. He is one of the best wrestlers in the world and he’s not being positioned as one in his current role.

Cody vs. Juice Robinson for the IWGP United States title

This is a rematch from Wrestle Kingdom 11 in 2017 and Cody has won every match involving the two.

Everyone expects Robinson to win the title and get his victory over Cody on the biggest card of the year. In some promotions, they would freak out that’s it’s so telegraphed and then change the finish, but I don’t see that happening here. The audience loves Robinson, wants to see him prevail, will go nuts when he does, and will be happy because they got what they wanted.

Robinson cut a ridiculous promo on Brandi Rhodes at the press conference where he was clearly adlibbing and threatened to punch her in the face if she got involved. Then, he started laughing and walked back the statement saying he wasn’t going to punch her, regardless of what she did, and this led to Cody laughing as well like they were Jimmy Fallon in an SNL sketch.

This match may be shorter given the depth of the card, but they can have a strong match with 11 or 12 minutes. Robinson should have a big year ahead and with Cody, everyone is curious how involved the Elite crew will be with New Japan this year and searching for hints on the shows this week.

Guerrillas of Destiny vs. The Young Bucks vs. EVIL and Sanada for the IWGP tag titles

The Guerrillas are on their fourth reign as tag champions while the other two teams have each had a run with them.

It’s the second three-way tag on the show, which is one too many. I expect this match to get some time and the interactions between Nick Jackson and Sanada should be off the charts.

I can’t see the Bucks winning as a surprise and would favor EVIL and Sanada winning the titles and getting a significant run with them.

Killer Elite Squad is the odd team out and could see them shooting an angle Saturday at Korakuen Hall.

Tomohiro Ishii vs. Zack Sabre Jr. for the British heavyweight title

I saw this match live at WrestleMania Weekend in New Orleans at Rev Pro and every time they have a singles match, it’s been great. In past singles matches, they are 2-2 with Ishii winning at the G1 Special in Long Beach in July 2017 and this past year in New Orleans for Rev Pro, while Sabre has beaten Ishii at the last two G1 Climax tournaments.

This is one of the most anticipated matches for me, it will be different from the rest of the card as there is no one at Sabre’s level doing what he does. Ishii had a case for being wrestler of the year in 2018 but he hasn’t had that top run that would cement his place and probably never will reach that level in New Japan.

Rev Pro’s Andy Quildan is in Japan for the show and will present a new version of the British heavyweight title to the winner.

The winner of this match could be a potential challenger for the IWGP title at one of the New Beginning cards.

El Desperado and Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. Shingo Takagi and Bushi vs. Roppongi 3K for the IWGP junior heavyweight tag titles

This is a rematch from the final of the Super Junior Tag League in November and that was a strong match. In that one, they were the main event, and this is the second match of the show proper, where time will be limited.

These six have the unenviable task of following what could be one of the greatest opening matches of all-time.

They have a tough order ahead of them and may not have time on their side. I would book this one to be nonstop action and use the extra bodies in the match as an advantage to convey the chaotic nature of the match.

Takagi and Bushi would be my choice to win the match and have a fresh team hold the titles.

Kota Ibushi vs. Will Ospreay for the NEVER Openweight title

The anticipation for this match is through the roof with some believing it will be the show stealer, one of the greatest opening matches of all-time and should be a match of the year candidate immediately.

I would expect nothing less than 15 to 18 minutes and start the show off as high as possible with two of the best wrestlers of this generation.

This should signify Ospreay’s graduation to the heavyweight division by winning the title and be the start of a legendary rivalry between the two.

Ospreay was on fire in 2018 and if he chose him as wrestler of the year, I wouldn’t argue it, he had one of the best years I can recall with Ibushi not far off.

This should be a classic and it may not even be the best match of the show.

Gauntlet match to become the #1 contenders for the NEVER Six-Man tag titles

The teams are:
-Togi Makabe, Toru Yano, Ryusuke Taguchi
-Yuji Nagata, Jeff Cobb, David Finlay
-Hirooki Goto, Best Friends
-Minoru Suzuki, Killer Elite Squad
-Hangman Page, Marty Scurll, Yujiro

The winners of the match will challenge the Guerrillas of Destiny and Taiji Ishimori on Saturday at New Year Dash.

There is a lot of talent in this match and they are probably getting a lot of time as the pre-show is one hour and this is the only match scheduled for that block.

Suzuki and Killer Elite Squad are probably the favorites along with Goto and the Best Friends.

There could be some great interactions throughout this match and the audience should provide a great atmosphere when Minoru Suzuki and Yuji Nagata enter.

**SmackDown edged out Raw for the second week in a row with the show averaging 2,091,000 viewers on New Year’s Day Tuesday. SmackDown had big competition from the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl that did 16.2 million and 13 million viewers respectively. Monday’s episode of Raw on New Year’s Eve averaged 1,968,000 viewers and was up 11% from the Christmas Eve show. The first hour did 2,035,000 viewers and stayed stead with 2,026,000 in the second hour and fell to 1,843,000 in the third hour. Again, with the shows landing on holiday nights this year, these aren’t numbers to take seriously. Next week’s episode of Raw goes against the Clemson vs. Alabama game and then football is over for the season.

**Brandi Rhodes has announced that she will serve as the chief brand officer of All Elite Wrestling:

I’ve dreamt of a life where I could marry my passions, combining my academic past with my entertainment future. I’m so excited to have been named Chief Brand Officer of AEW, and thrilled to continue to entertain inside and around the ring. 2019 is going to be amazing.

**Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter is reporting that Britt Baker has signed with All Elite Wrestling. Baker wrestled in a four-way match at “All In” with Tessa Blanchard, Madison Rayne, and Chelsea Green.

**Tonight is the final episode of Impact Wrestling on Pop TV after three years with the network. Tonight’s episode is the final show from the tapings in Las Vegas heading into the Homecoming event this Sunday on pay-per-view. Below is the lineup for the show at 10 pm Eastern:
*Johnny Impact and Brian Cage vs. Pentagon Jr. and Fenix
*Willie Mack, Rich Swann, Zachary Wentz, Dezmond Xavier and Trey Miguel vs. Sami Callihan, Dave & Jake Crist, Matt Sydal, and Ethan Page
*Kiera Hogan vs. Allie
*Eli Drake’s Homecoming address

**Several people within the industry have come out in support of Toni Storm, who was the victim of a hack that led to her personal photos being released. In response, Storm has shut down her social media accounts. Paige, Mauro Ranallo, and Renee Young are among those that have tweeted their support along with many fans using #SupportToniStorm to voice their support for the performer.

**The Voices of Wrestling team has put out their annual New Japan Year in Review eBook. This book is always a great read on the past year of the promotion with essays on various subjects, show reviews, match statistics, profiles on the talent, and this year Cody wrote the foreword to the book. You are able to buy the book by naming your own price and the information is on their site.

**All Japan Pro Wrestling has signed Shuji Ishikawa, who had not been full-time with the promotion as he split his dates with Big Japan. The 43-year old won the Triple Crown championship in May 2017 and has held the tag titles twice with Suwama with the team in the middle of their second reign.

**All Japan held their New Year Wars 2019 card on Thursday from Korakuen Hall. The show was headlined by Kento Miyahara defeating KAI to retain the Triple Crown along with Naoya Nomura and Yuma Aoyagi defeating Takao Omori and Black Menso to retain the All Asia tag titles.

**Ring of Honor has added the following matches to Honor Reigns Supreme on Sunday, January 13th in Concord, North Carolina: Bandido vs. PJ Black, Flip Gordon vs. Tracy Williams, and The Best Friends vs. Juice Robinson and David Finlay.

**MLW has announced that Pentagon Jr. and Fenix will defend the MLW tag titles against The Hart Foundation on February 2nd at the MLW Superfight card in Philadelphia at the 2300 Arena. They are not announcing which combination of Teddy Hart, Davey Boy Smith Jr., and Brian Pillman Jr. will be challenging for the titles.

**NXT has announced the nominees for their year-end awards in the following categories:

*Best Female Competitor: Shayna Baszler, Kairi Sane, Nikki Cross, Ember Moon, and Bianca Belair

*Best Male Competitor: Aleister Black, Tommaso Ciampa, Johnny Gargano, Ricochet, Velveteen Dream, Andrade Cien Almas, Adam Cole, and Pete Dunne

*Overall Competitor: Aleister Black, Pete Dunne, Bianca Belair, Adam Cole, Velveteen Dream, Ember Moon, Andrade Cien Almas, Ricochet, Shayna Baszler, Johnny Gargano, Kairi Sane, Tommaso Ciampa, and Nikki Cross

*Tag Team of the Year: War Machine, Kyle O’Reilly and Roderick Strong, Heavy Machinery, Street Profits, Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch, Tyler Bate and Trent Seven
*TakeOver of the Year: Philadelphia, New Orleans, Chicago II, Brooklyn IV, and War Games

*Match of the Year: War Games, Gargano vs. Almas (TakeOver: Philadelphia), Moustache Mountain vs. Undisputed Era (July 11th), Gargano vs. Ciampa (TakeOver: New Orleans), North American title ladder match (TakeOver: New Orleans), Sane vs. Baszler (TakeOver: Brooklyn IV), Ricochet vs. Velveteen Dream (TakeOver: Chicago), Black vs. Ciampa (July 25th), Dunne vs. Zach Gibson (Aug. 22nd), Black vs. Cole (TakeOver: Philadelphia), Dunne vs. O’Reilly (June 13th), Burch and Lorcan bs. Undisputed Era (TakeOver: Chicago), Nikki Cross vs. Bianca Belair (Sept. 12th), Ricochet vs. Dunne (Sept. 19th), and Ricochet vs. Dunne vs. Cole (Oct. 10th)

*Best Rivalry: Gargano vs. Ciampa, Sane vs. Baszler, The attack on Aleister Black, Gargano vs. Almas, Moustache Mountain vs. Undisputed Era, Moon vs. Baszler, Ricochet vs. Velveteen Dream

*Breakout Star: Bianca Belair, Lacey Evans, Lars Sullivan, Ricochet, War Raiders, Rhea Ripley, EC 3 and Dakota Kai

*Future Star(s) of NXT: Matt Riddle, Keith Lee, Mia Yim, Forgotten Sons, Donovan Dijakovic, Io Shirai, Candice LeRae, Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir, Kona Reeves

**Katsuyori Shibata will be doing meet-and-greets at Ring of Honor’s Road to the G1 Supercard shows on January 24th in Dallas, January 25th in Houston, and January 26th in San Antonio.

**DDT has announced they will begin sharing talent with Fight Club Pro.

**Matt Sydal suffered an injury and is off this Saturday’s Warrior Wrestling card in Chicago Heights, Illinois. The new match for the card will feature Carlos Romo teaming with A-Kid against Pentagon Jr. and Fenix.

**Ariel Helwani’s Year in Review show that aired on New Year’s Eve averaged 62,000 viewers on ESPN 2 from 9 pm-Midnight Eastern.

**According to Austin Karp of SportsBusiness Daily, the NFL’s viewership was up 5% this season with an average of 15,760,000 viewers compared to 14,960,000 the prior year. The Sunday afternoon games on Fox were up 2%, CBS and NBC’s Sunday games were up 6%, Monday Night Football on ESPN jumped 8% and Fox’s Thursday night package increased 4%.

**Jim Ross turns 67 years old today and Lorenzo Fertitta turns 50.

PAY-PER-VIEW REWIND
Wrestle Kingdom 12
Thursday, January 4th, 2018

*Masahito Kakihara won the New Japan Rumble
*The Young Bucks over Roppongi 3K to retain the IWGP junior heavyweight tag titles
*Tomohiro Ishii, Beretta, and Toru Yano defeated Guerrillas of Destiny and Bad Luck Fale, Michael Elgin and War Machine, Zack Sabre Jr., Takashi Iizuka, and Taichi, and Ryusuke Taguchi, Togi Makabe and Juice Robinson to win the NEVER Six-Man tag titles
*Kota Ibushi over Cody
*Evil and Sanada over Killer Elite Squad to win the IWGP tag titles
*Hirooki Goto over Minoru Suzuki in a Hair vs. Hair match to win the NEVER Openweight title
*Will Ospreay over KUSHIDA, Hiromu Takahashi, and Marty Scurll to win the IWGP junior heavyweight title
*Hiroshi Tanahashi over Jay White to retain the Intercontinental title
*Kenny Omega over Chris Jericho to retain the United States title
*Kazuchika Okada over Tetsuya Naito to retain the IWGP heavyweight title

**E! has released the following trailer for the upcoming season of Total Bellas that premieres on Sunday, January 13th:

**Impact Wrestling has released a feature on Brian Cage going into Homecoming this Sunday, where he takes on Johnny Impact for the Impact title:

*****
upNXT 1/3/19: BEST & WORST of 2018
Braden Herrington & Davie Portman review the highs & lows of WWE NXT 2018! They go over their picks for their BEST & WORST OF categories and are joined by friends and listeners of the show who give their choices as well!
https://www.postwrestling.com/2019/01/03/upnxt-1-3-19-best-worst-of-2018/
*****
EGGSHELLS Podcast Companion: 2018 with Kevin Kelly
Episode 30 sees Chris Charlton and Kevin Kelly look at 2018. In this final episode, with the top three matches for Wrestle Kingdom 13 in mind, the two look at the year that was for the six key players of WK12: Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kenny Omega, Kazuchika Okada, Jay White, Tetsuya Naito, and Chris Jericho.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2019/01/03/eggshells-podcast-companion-2018-w-kevin-kelly/
*****
RARSD 1/2/19: New Year’s Raw & SD, Gene Okerlund Passes, All Elite Wrestling
John Pollock and Wai Ting return to catch you up on this week’s New Year’s editions of Raw and SmackDown. Plus, they discuss the life and career of the late “Mean” Gene Okerlund and the official announcement of All Elite Wrestling.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2019/01/02/rarsd-1-2-19-new-years-raw-sd-gene-okerlund-passes-all-elite-wrestling/
*****
NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 13 Primer and Preview

John Pollock, WH Park, and Wai Ting present their Wrestle Kingdom 13 Primer with an in-depth preview of the card at the Tokyo Dome and the stories going into the show.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2019/01/01/njpw-wrestle-kingdom-13-primer-and-preview/
*****
EGGSHELLS Podcast Companion: 2017 with Michelle Cain

Episode 29 sees Chris Charlton and Michelle Cain look at 2017. Hiromu Takahashi debuts in the Dome, Kenny Omega and Kazuchika Okada have a classic, and DDT runs the (empty) Dome for the first time.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2018/12/31/eggshells-podcast-companion-2017-w-michelle-cain/
*****
REWIND-A-WAI #26: ECW One Night Stand 2005
John Pollock and Wai Ting review ECW One Night Stand, WWE’s one-night-only revival of Extreme Championship Wrestling from the Hammerstein Ballroom in Manhattan, New York. We discuss the stories behind what many consider one of the best PPVs of all time, including its creation, the involvement of the WWE, Eddie Guerrero’s displeasure with his participation, JBL vs. the Blue Meanie and more.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2018/12/30/rewind-a-wai-26-ecw-one-night-stand-2005/
*****
UFC 232 POST Show: Jones vs. Gustafsson, Cyborg vs. Nunes

John Pollock is joined by Phil Chertok and Ziggy Cao to review UFC 232 featuring Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson and Cris Cyborg vs. Amanda Nunes.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2018/12/30/ufc-232-post-show-jones-vs-gustafsson-cyborg-vs-nunes/
*****
EGGSHELLS Podcast Companion: 2016 with Joe Lanza

Episode 28 sees Chris Charlton and Voices of Wrestling’s Joe Lanza look at 2016. AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura leave NJPW following their match, leading to a sudden elevation for Kenny Omega, and Kazuchika Okada finally vanquishes Hiroshi Tanahashi.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2018/12/29/eggshells-podcast-companion-2016-w-joe-lanza/
*****
THE WORST OF 2018 SHOW

It’s POST Wrestling’s Worst of 2018 show as the panel of John Pollock, Wai Ting, Braden Herrington, and Davie Portman go through the worst that 2018 had to offer.
https://www.postwrestling.com/2018/12/28/the-worst-of-2018-show/
*****

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About John Pollock 997 Articles
Born on a Friday, John Pollock is a reporter, editor & podcaster at POST Wrestling. He runs and owns POST Wrestling alongside Wai Ting.